Baosteel Desheng Stainless Steel has contracted Hatch Ltd to conduct a process improvement study at its FeNi plant in Fuijan Province, China.

The study will examine opportunities to reduce the flux in its operations. The FeNi plant has four rotary kiln – electric furnace (RKEF) lines with an annual nickel capacity of about 20kt.

Several issues with flux addition, reductant coal, rotary kiln operation, and furnace operation were identified by the Hatch team and Baosteel Desheng implemented the improvements on a step-by-step basis. The recommendations were supported by a performance guarantee from Hatch.

Investigations began in January 2014 and the final report was issued by Hatch in March.

Following the implementation of the report's recommendations, Baosteel Desheng reported in May that the flux addition has been eliminated, which means an annual operating cost savings of about RMB50 million (US $8 million) for the plant if four RKEF lines stay in operation.

A kiln operation study is now being considered by the steelmaker, which was also strongly recommended by Hatch's flux study report.